Monday, 8 October 2012
The yellow wallpaper
This exhibition at Danson House references the novella of the same name by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Curated by Tom Gallant, it contains his ‘Dress 09’ based on the story of the yellow wallpaper and complementary works by five other artists linking to Victorian culture. The novella is based on a rest cure for a Victorian woman, which requires her complete isolation in a bedroom decorated with yellow wallpaper, and describes her descent into madness as she sees a figure like herself trapped behind the wallpaper and attempts to tear the paper down to help the prisoner escape. Tom Gallant’s intricate wallpaper ‘Iris’, inspired by a William Morris pattern and containing images of all seeing eyes, and his ‘Dress 09’ both reference the novella directly. The dress, constructed in collaboration with Marios Schwab, is made of laser cut corded silk over painted silk crepe and cleverly reproduces the effect of the top layer gradually peeling away from the underlayer. The false shadow, by forming a layer of shed skin, also adds another dimension of unreality.
Two of the artists had produced site specific work for this exhibition. Fiona Curran had laser cut plywood to produce oversized wall patterns. Based on an 18th century floral silk pattern, she had embellished them with icing sugar to reference the origins of the Boyd family fortune (A delicious garden, 2011).
Ligia Bouton had combined comic book images of a superhero and Victorian wallpaper to produce an installation including images of the hero taking on ‘an army of furniture monstrosities which embodied the excesses of Victorian furniture’. This work ‘The adventures of William Morris man’ particularly resonated with me because Ligia’s anthropomorphic use of furniture has links with the way I use net curtains to comment on the domestic. As a whole, the exhibition also included furniture, photography and animation and many layers of interest, all in a gem of a venue at Danson House.